…to quit pretending I’m going to finish Eat Pray Love. I’m not gonna. I’m sorry, I really am, but I’m just not going to finish it. I see it every day, spine cracked open to somewhere in India, mocking me, whispering, “But you promised!” and I am finally comfortable saying, “I don’t care!” (Ruh-roh, it’s also reminding me that I need to give it back to my friend Maura, who lent it to me.)
I started the endeavor to read the book back in October. I made my way through Italy and part of India, then put the book down and never picked it up again. I did make some notes, though, while I was reading. Shall I share those? Let’s see if I can decipher them well enough to make any sort of sense.
I happily present to you My Annotated Notes on Half of Eat Pray Love. (YOU’RE WELCOME.)
Take back the part about the advance….
This is about my discomfort (before reading) with knowing that Gilbert got paid for her enlightenment trip before actually taking it. It seemed disingenuous to me. But something made me give her a free pass on this one. I can’t remember what now. (Good job, Sosenko. A well supported point, indeed.)
…but add smugness to the list.
Ah, this one I remember. Here’s what I wrote: There are moments of true humor and awareness, moments of really fine writing, but mostly I felt the same way I feel when I look at pictures of Ryan Reynolds: Gosh, he’s hot, but why is he always smirking at me?
Gilbert strikes me as terribly fond of herself. I couldn’t help wondering while reading if she wasn’t very tired from all that masturbating.
Well look how sassy I am! I now worry if I wasn’t terribly fond of myself when I wrote that one. [Ba-zing!] The student becomes the teacher! Anyway, yeah, she’s an egotist. You can tell she’s psyched when she makes a particularly clever turn of phrase, and she is clever (sometimes), but knowing that she knows it is irritating.
She’s like the comic Marc Maron in that way, probably the most narcissistic, inwardly focused comedian I’ve ever seen perform (in a profession that depends on those qualities): Talented comic, but man, I hate that guy.
This makes sense: I had just seen Maron perform at Largo in Los Angeles. Now, I feel the need to disclaim that this was my penultimate night on a trip to LA, and I was starting to feel pretty disgruntled. I’d had a lovely time, but just five nights away from New York made me miss it terribly. LA makes me feel isolated and depressed (I’m sorry, those of you from there, I really am! I’m sure it’s lovely–I just don’t function as a happy person in LA.), and another friend on the trip was also feeling isolated and icky, and his isolation and ickiness were rubbing off on me, too, and then you add someone like Mark Maron and then add someone like Elizabeth Gilbert, and well, no one’s gonna get out alive. But yeah—narcissists, both of ‘em. And if there’s anything I can’t stand it’s a narcissist. (And it’s all about ME and what I can’t stand.)
In the end, I’m glad I read it.
Aww, look how wide-eyed and optimistic I was then. I fully expected to finish the book. I’m older and wiser now.
Is EPL the worst book I’ve ever read? Certainly not, not even close. Mostly it’s like riding an upside-down roller coaster [this note makes sense, too! I rode my first roller coaster while on the aforementioned California trip]: I’m glad I did it and now know what all the fuss is about, but I don’t need to do it again.
I find some of her descriptions beautiful, of depression in particular. But most of it is just too tidy. You woke up and loneliness was gone? I don’t think so, sister.
Some of my issues are personal and therefore not Gilbert’s problem (unlike all my other issues, which I’m sure she’s home tossing and turning about). But (I guess?) they’re worth mentioning: I can’t relate to women who haven’t been single since they’re 15, who “disappear” into their partners. These women freak me out. These women are as foreign to me as Italian once was to Gilbert (it’s not foreign anymore—she lived in Italy for a while, did you hear [ooh, burn]?). (If nothing else, I’m glad reading part of this book gave me the opportunity to use a bracket within a parens, whether or not I did it right. Look at all that fancy punctuation! Beautiful!)
I admire that Gilbert finished a book, that she has a strong sense of story (both are things I am respectively struggling with and struggle with always). But memoir is already a precious form. The last thing you want to do is make it more precious. I’m not sure she succeeds there. The dialogue was often intoxicating, but I didn’t buy most it. It was too perfect, too crafted. Every one of Gilbert’s myriad friends were fonts of wit and wisdom (though none quite so fonty as Gilbert herself).
They were all just filled with so much gushing love for her, and by the end (ahem, by the end of the middle, I mean), it was hard to imagine anyone adoring her, much less everyone. (Again, I’ll admit there is something about her. I understand why people are drawn in—at least I *think* I remember understanding–but don’t quite get why they stick around for the duration. She seems vaguely vampiric. Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I worry that that’s how I can be–all show and no substance, all bombast and no gooey nougat center, all charisma and no cojones. Oh brother, I better quit it now. It’s 10:44 on a Sunday morning and I’ve only had two cups of coffee.)
Well, that was abrupt. I unfortunately have nothing more to say because that’s where my notes end, and have nothing at all to say about Indonesia, because I never made it there. So I hope this will suffice.
And I also hope you’re all off to a lovely, fun, contentment-making 2011. I don’t really do the whole resolution thing (well, except for the one I just did, and I guess the one I’m about to lay on you right now), but mine is to blog more. I hope that makes you happy. And if it doesn’t, hey—nobody’s forcing you to be here, buddy!
The picture up top is from New Year’s Eve. (That’s my friend KP–isn’t she cute?) I like the unwitting colors in it: the blue lei, the pink straw, KP’s red lipstick. Can you see the enormous bow on the right side of my head? I really like that bow. I got a lot of compliments on it throughout the night but could never quite tell if those bestowing the compliments were genuine or mocking me. I hit the height of paranoia when I heard a group of people behind me on the street talking about a friend’s “beau.” But you know what? I didn’t care. Because I LOVE THAT SILLY BOW.
Happy 2011, y’all. See you soon.